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George Bellows and New York, 1900–1930

New Construction, New New York
New York in the early 20th century was in a state of constant flux. One of the most striking marks of the evolving city was the transformation of its built environment. The turn of the century initiated a major construction boom that shaped the iconic skyline we know today. Old buildings were torn down and replaced by lofty skyscrapers, and massive bridges connected Manhattan with neighboring Queens, Brooklyn, and mainland New York State.The works of art in this section convey an acute artistic awareness of these changes. Included are turn-of-the-century works by Childe Hassam, Joseph Pennell, Joseph Ruzicka, and Everett Shinn. Also included are images from the 1920s and 1930s by Edward Hopper and Louis Lozowick, whose depictions of the city were shaped by the innovations of Bellows and his peers. In the years following the devastation of World War I (1914–1918), Hopper and others depicted New York with a new sensibility that explored the city’s tendency to isolate and make anonymous—but also its ability to inspire wonder.While each artist’s treatment of the subject is distinctive, they are united by their fascination with this new urban architecture, especially the relationship between human-made surroundings and the natural environment. By embracing an alternative to the “landscape tradition,” all of these artists captured a perpetually changing metropolis, one that was markedly modern, yet retained certain elements of its primal state.